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Wondering what to do with all of those green tomatoes? Many people face this issue, especially at the end of the season when tomatoes haven’t ripened on the vine due to early frost. Others might leave them unripe to avoid animals and pests.

While green tomatoes are safe and edible, they lack the full taste and flavor of ripe ones. They are tart and slightly crunchy.

If you prefer them ripe, there are ways to encourage ripening indoors, although not all green tomatoes will mature off the vine. Generally, a tomato should be at least 40 percent of its full size to have a chance at ripening. Small, hard green tomatoes are less likely to mature. The best candidates for ripening are those that are slightly soft when gently squeezed.

green tomatoes
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Newspaper and a Box

To ripen green tomatoes, place them in a box with newspapers. Wrap each tomato in newspaper to prevent them from touching each other.

The box retains heat, creating a warm environment that helps the tomatoes ripen, ideally at around 70 degrees. Changes should occur within a week, though ripening times vary. Monitor the process daily and remove any rotten tomatoes.

You can also add a ripe apple or banana to the box, as these fruits emit ethylene, a gas that promotes ripening. While this can enhance the process, it is not necessary as long as the tomatoes are good candidates for ripening.

green and red tomatoes
Image Credit: Deposit Photos

Use a Paper Bag

You can replicate the box method using a paper bag if you have just a few tomatoes. The brown paper bag will create a warm, humid environment to help the tomatoes ripen. Place the green tomatoes in the bag and fold the top over.

Avoid overcrowding; ensure space between the tomatoes so they aren’t touching. Leave the bag on your countertop and check it every few days. You should see signs of ripening within a week.

Close up of lush green tomatoes.
Image Credit: Deposit Photos

Place on a Sunny Windowsill

To ripen green tomatoes, place them in a warm, sunny spot indoors, preferably on a windowsill or south-facing window. The warmth, rather than direct sunlight, facilitates ripening.

Ensure the tomatoes are not too close to any heat source to prevent them from ripening too quickly, which can affect their flavor. Regularly check your tomatoes. This method may take longer than others because the heat isn’t as concentrated, but it will eventually turn the tomatoes red.

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